CEDAR RAPIDS — They began the week getting blown out by a city rival. The Cedar Rapids Jefferson J-Hawks ended the week by upsetting one.
The J-Hawks built a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter and got a defensive stop at the end to hold off Cedar Rapids Kennedy, 76-74, Friday night in a highly entertaining game on the Cougars’ Hall of Fame Night.
What a turnaround for Jefferson (4-7), which lost by 31 Monday night at Cedar Rapids Prairie and by 12 Tuesday night at Dubuque Wahlert. What a win.
“Monday and Tuesday was bad. It was really bad,” said Jefferson guard Ozzie Meiborg. “A lot of division going on in the locker room between a lot of guys. Obviously, when you lose six out of seven or whatever it was for us, you’re going to see that. We took Wednesday and Thursday and really hammered cohesiveness and coming together in times of adversity. Kind of blocking out all the noise and focus on ourselves, focus on what we can do to win basketball games. We saw dudes buy in tonight. You can see what we can do when we’re a team.”
Kennedy (7-4) came in riding the high of an upset of its own Tuesday night against a ranked Dubuque Hempstead team. This was a letdown.
Coach Jon McKowen was asked if Tuesday played a factor in Friday.
“I’m sure it does,” he said. “We’re talking about 14 to 18-year-olds, so you never know what’s going to have an effect. But I just thought our mental engagement was really low tonight. That’s something we’ve been very good at, being engaged and communicating, always being in the right spots, always making the right reads. I just thought we were a step behind tonight.”
Maison Read splashed six 3-pointers and scored 26 points as Jefferson built a 63-46 edge with 4:38 left. That spread actually came on a breakaway dunk by Jeff’s Brayden Kindhart, all 6-foot of him.
“When we’re making shots, we play good defense,” Read said. “We were making shots early, so our defense was spot on. We made it a little interesting at the end, but a win’s a win in this conference. We’ll take it, especially against our rival Kennedy.”
About that ending. Jefferson missed free throws, committed turnovers and watched Kennedy somehow get within 76-74 on a putback-and-one by center Caleb Schlaak with 20.9 seconds left. Schlaak had a game-high 28.
Kindhart was called for a charging foul on the ensuing possession, giving Kennedy an improbable last chance to tie or win. Brandtley Koske missed a contested shot in the lane for the Cougars, with Josh White’s putback attempt also missing, though it may have come just after the final buzzer.
“Coach (Chris Fechner) had a great plan,” Read said. “He put our best defender, Theo (Habimana), on their point guard and made it tough for them to get a shot off.”
Koske added 17 points for Kennedy. Meiborg had 18 and Kindhart 12 for Jefferson.
AT CEDAR RAPIDS KENNEDY
C.R. JEFFERSON (76): Kenny Moore 2-5 0-0 4, Raejzuan Shockley 1-2 3-3 5, Brayden Kindhart 5-8 1-9 12, Maison Read 9-15 2-4 26, Ozzie Meiborg 5-14 5-6 18, Andreas Williams 2-8 4-8 9, Kaden Haller 1-2 0-0 2, Theo Habimana 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-564 16-30 76.
C.R. KENNEDY (74): Paul Cory 2-6 0-0 4, Caleb Schlaak 12-22 12-14 28, Josh White 2-9 0-0 5, Braden Dolphin 0-4 0-0 0, Kenzie Reed 2-6 2-2 6, Cole Hrubes 1-5 0-0 3, Brandtley Koske 7-13 2-2 17, Max White 0-0 0-0 0, Makhi Harris 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 26-66 17-20 74.
Halftime — Jefferson 35, Kennedy 33. 3-point goals — Jefferson 10-25 (Kindhart 10-3, Read 6-10, Meiborg 2-9, Williams 1-2, Haller 0-1), Kennedy 5-25 (Cory 0-2, Reed 0-2, Schlaak 2-3, J. White 1-5, Dolphin 0-4, Hrubes 1-5, Koske 1-3, Harris 0-1). Rebounds — Jefferson 38 (Williams 10), Kennedy 39 (Schlaak 9). Total fouls — Jefferson 18, Kennedy 22. Fouled out — Dolphin. Technical foul — Kennedy Coach Jon McKowen. Turnovers — Jefferson 18, Kennedy 16.
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